Bethlehem, Tue 16.2.10, Morning
Today, I was greeted on the way by people with especially sad faces.They turned to me and said that the situation is particularly harsh today: “We stand crowded at the checkpoint for an hour. Perhaps you bring here Edna from“Big Brother” so they see what happens...”
“Today it’s terrible, much worse than yesterday. Everything is slow.”
I approach the entrance. On the road, a lot of cars (not a good sign:many foremen waiting for workers who haven’t crossed). Again, I’m approached with complaints: “Today, everything is bad. Many people are outside, entering very slowly, an officer creating chaos, one of the officers shoved someone – don’t know why!"
someone told me:“Go to the other side. At the entrance are hundreds of people who are already waiting since four in the morning. Why do you come here – from here you see nothing.”
06:45 AM: Rachel and Drora are inside, relating that the policeman said everything is okay, no problem. This contrasts with everything that they have seen so far. Four positions are manned but there are no lines in front of them. People are not arriving from inside. Everything flowing at snail’s pace. The people passing are bitter and nervous, hearing that there is terrible crowding outside. A worker with an injured hand comes out. The injury is bleeding from deep cuts. He says that it’s from the crowding at the fence. He refuses to go for first aid on the spot, doesn’t want us to record his name or his complaint for who knows what the result will be. He prefers to meet his employer and get aid from him.
For the next two hours the situation does not change. People emerge shocked. Shouts heard from inside. The flow comes to the positions in waves of twenty, they pass, the positions empty, then a new wave. Every one coming out throws a word of complaint to us. A lot of people outside. Crushing is terrible. Before the machines inside more crowding in the line. They are passed one by one, slowly.
06:45 AM: a phone call to the Humanitarian Centre – they promise to deal with it.
07:15 AM: a phone call to the Humanitarian Centre – they promise to deal with it.
The policeman on the spot claims that everything is okay, like everyday.
And so it goes on – phone calls and complaints of the transients.
Towards 07:30 AM: another phone call to the DCL. They don’t know that there are problems. They will check. But they only deal with things at the humanitarian gate. The ordinary gate is the concern of the police. "Find them on the ground and talk to them".
A phone call to Hana Barag. Perhaps she can help. Hana phones the whole world. No improvement.
It’s already after 08:00, and the people coming out say they have been there in line since 05:00. They wait for colleagues from work who aren't through yet.
An employer waiting for his workers who don’t succeed in getting through, after waiting half an hour, goes to tell them not to come. They won’t go to work today.
Outside we encounter workers whose employer did not wait for them. The hour is 08:00 and he left at 07:05. They lost a day’s work. They contend that they “pay the employer 50 shekels a day for the permit, and if we take a taxi to Modiin it will cost 100, so what’s left?”
Another phone call to Hana – she was called by the police who berated her because we complained and it’s more serious that the army supplied us with a few soldiers at the positions. She complained again.
08:40 AM: we left the checkpoint. It seems that the traffic is flowing, more workers pouring out. The block has opened up. From conversation with people outside, it becomes clear that many workers gave up and went home.
On our way out, we are met outside the checkpoint by a policeman named Hagi Cohen who rebukes us: “You lie when you say that today wasn’t good. Everything is okay today.” “You say what you do about us, and they hate us andhave an interest in saying that everything’s no good.” “I don’t believe you, all your complaints are lies.” “My ambition is that you shouldn’t come in here at all because you lie.” Etc, etc....
“In short, everything you say is incorrect. You invent everything because you have an interest to smear us. And the Arabs have a similar interest, so whatever you say we will not believe you...”
Outside, on our way to the car, we get shouts from despairing workers:“What are you doing. Nothing helps. Complain to them about what they are doing to us.” “They treat sheep better than us. Tell Chaya and Sylvia to go to the High Court. It’s a very sad day...”